Working class beast Ryan di Pompeo says if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right! That attitude is pushing him to success on the powerlifting platform just as it served him well in his former career as an amateur kickboxer. Ryan is a full-time generator technician, a former bantamweight- featherweight fighter and a current powerlifter in the 181lb class.
Ryan, you’re a Garage Gym Life OG! You were one of the first to post a picture of yourself in a Garage Gym Life t-shirt last August but you’ve been working out from home for how long?
I had a garage gym set up in my parents garage but I completed my first workout in my current garage gym on 4/4/15.
Training at home is usually a solo act. What attracted you to our Instagram community?
I suppose it started me using #garagegym and seeing other people’s garage gyms and learning and sharing info seemed so easy and then the garage gym life brings all that and more to the community.
Your fitness background is a little different than most people. Did you start out as a fighter first or were you a bodybuilder then a fighter?
After high school I began fighting MMA competitively, then took a short run of making fighting a career. After about seven years I needed a real form of income so I put my mechanical skills back to work. Now working a good job I needed to stay physically active so I took to the iron to build and strengthen myself . . . looking for a way to stay competitive I started powerlifting.
You just had a powerlifting meet.
How often do you compete?
I try to do two a year. Three could be rough but one wouldn’t be enough.
What are your best numbers to date?
Squat 556lbs, bench 355lbs, deadlift 620lbs, 1519 lbs best total.
What are your goals for the next five years? Do you want to stay in the 198lb class?
Well, I started in 181 and now am in 198; I don’t know that I would want to go over but only time will tell.
What do you walk around at?
190 to 195 right now. That’s where I’d like to stay.
Big difference from a 135lb fighter! You’ve managed to retain a lot of your athleticism as you’ve added size. What do you do to stay mobile and explosive?
I don’t limit myself to any one form of training. If I feel I’m lacking something I will train it. I’m in control of myself and the outcome of my training. There is a lot of stuff I dislike training but if it will help me with the ones I like, it’s worth sucking it up and doing them.
Man! Preach that sermon! Waaay too many guys say to me, “I don’t do that, I’m a strongman, or I’m a powerlifter, I don’t do high reps. I don’t like all of that heavy lifting, I’m a bodybuilder. Some guys worry that they’ll get injured if they do something outside of their sport or that it will slow down their gains. What do you think? You’re obviously still getting stronger but do you think training this way is keeping your healthier?
I think all forms of training that I’ve ever been interested in have a higher level of risk but it’s about managing that risk and growing without injury that makes training successful.
Agreed. Let’s talk about your gym. The video walkthrough you showed in your profile video shows quite a bit of stuff. What did you start the gym with?
My gym started with a power rack, a bumper plate set, a cheap 45lb bar and some kb’s.
What was the first thing you added?
I built a set of box jumps since I kinda had the start of a Crossfit box; plyo boxes seemed a smart and easy diy
I noticed that you guys added a heater
Last winter we got by with a propane Mr. Heater 50k to 80k btu that used about a 20lb tank every week . . . kinda . . . sucked.
Well, I’ve seen a resurgence in the shirtless post training pics so can I assume that the new heater is a success?
Yes! This new heater is the 50000 BTU Mr Heater Natural Gas and it works fantastic! It’s actually more than enough at the moment. I also installed a thermostat as well so it’s pretty hands off now that all the hard work is done installing it.
I’ll add a link in case anyone else is interested in grabbing a heater. But since we mentioned the heater, I should add that your training partners helped you install it. So tell me about Working Class Barbell. It’s based at your home garage gym, right?
Yes, all members had a role helping out with the improvements. I have a close group here and we all put in the work together.
What motivated you to have other guys train with you at home, especially since you already train at Jakked Gym with a team?
I have always been a firm believer that iron sharpens iron. And teaching others sharpens my skills. I love passing on info for self improvement and what better place than my own gym? The one thing I must say about training at home is to be successful, you cannot be the strongest guy in the gym and that’s been said long before I heard that. I’ve been through training funks since training at home due to this. I was lacking the training partners that I have now and wasn’t able to get enough push leaving my training stagnant and frustrating. That’s why I have to train with the Jakked team as well so I’m never the strongest guy I train with. You have to be chasing somebody once in a while, that’s what keeps you motivated!
Well, I don’t mind telling you that I’m chasing you, Mike Parrott, James Fuller and Wes Jenkins but enough about me. Was Julia your first training partner?
Julia and I have been together over three years now and have been training together since. We both had fitness as a huge part of our lives before we found another but our love for the industry continues to grow as we do.
She’s experiencing a great deal of success it seems as a garage gym reservist (she trains in a garage occasionally but in a commercial gym most of the time). What’s her competition record?
Julia is someone who can excel in everything she does. She has a drive like no other! She has placed 1st on on the figure shows this year, and 3rd last year as well as a 1st place finish in a powerlifting meet and 1 time bombing out at a meet.
How many days a week do you guys train together?
Never set in stone. It’s usually up to her , we both do good solo and we both do awesome together but we bump heads often because we are both competitive with another so it could get ugly sometimes.
That’s an important lesson to learn so that exercise bonds you rather than breaking you apart as a couple! My wife and I have been together for 15 years, 13 and a half of that is as husband and wife. We’ve realized something similar, so we don’t do the same type of training together. This morning, she was doing kettlebells while I did easy conditioning on the treadmill. If I’m lifting, she’s doing treadmill or maybe one of her Daily Burn or Beachbody videos. About the only things we can do together are hike or go cycling.
Julia and I haven’t fully figured out an ideal schedule but we make it we make it work based on each other’s needs. When she needs to go heavy and trust her spotters, she comes to the right place (the garage) but when she’s just training and needs to be around a livelier atmosphere or have all the cardio options she goes to the commercial gym where she’s the alpha chick. I personally have not set foot in a commercial gym outside of vacations in I can’t tell you how long.
Tell me about the other members of Working Class Barbell. Do all of you have blue collar jobs?
We have it all coming through the doors of the working-class barbell. One thing expected in the gym is that you show up to work hard. So if doesn’t matter if you have been busting your back all day long in the field or sitting pretty in a sales meeting 9-5 , when your in the gym you’re a working-class savage.
How tough is it to come home and train after a full day of skilled labor?
It’s very rough, some days are better than others but it’s about making it happen as best as possible.
Do you adjust your training schedule around your work schedule? Like maybe push deadlifts to another day if you’re going to spend a long day driving and compressing your spine in the work van?
Younger me said, “This is the schedule STICK to it!” Now, I listen to my body much more so yes, programming gets adjusted, rest days forced and even unplanned trips to the chiro!
Do you and the Working Class Barbell team have any competitions planned as a team?
My father and I just did this past meet, nothing as a team. Working on getting some of the crew ready for a meet but no dates set yet.
How did your dad do?
My dad did great! He went 8 for 9, missed his third attempt on bench but went into the meet with a shoulder injury so finishing his first full powerlifting meet with a squat PR and deadlift PR, I was very proud!
Tell me about your favorite charity. Why does Special Olympics mean so much to you?
I helped out one year at the special Olympics powerlifting meet and seeing the thrill these guys and girls got was something special and I wanted to continue to help.
You can help Special Olympics whenever you order a Working Class Beast T-shirt from the Garage Gym Life store. A portion of the annual proceeds are donated to this charity to help them continue to help these special athletes compete in the sports they love! And be sure to check out working-classbarbell.com for cool t-shirts!